Tuesday, 22 August 2017

2 BY FINGERS MURPHY


A couple from the Kindle collection by author Fingers Murphy. Fingers Murphy is unsurprisingly a pseudonym. The author is a globe-trotting criminal attorney and he values his anonymity.

No website and funny enough all 4 of his books were published the same year - 2011. I wonder if all that lawyering is keeping him too busy to write. On the basis of my first outing with him that's a shame.

Murphy's novella Everything I Tell You is a Lie appeared on the blog a few days ago. Thoughts here.

The two I'm highlighting are Follow the Money and $200 and a Cadillac. I could just as easily chosen The Flaming Motel, but then it would have been a 3 BY feature and that just wouldn't cut it.

Follow the Money (2011)

"MOVE OVER JOHN GRISHAM!" -- Debbi Mack, NY Times Bestselling Author of Identity Crisis and Least Wanted

FOR FANS OF JOHN GRISHAM, STEVE MARTINI, JOHN LESCROART, AND JAMES GRIPPANDO COMES A GRIPPING AND GRITTY NEW VOICE IN LEGAL THRILLERS. GET READY TO LOSE SOME SLEEP!

"ALWAYS ASSUME PEOPLE ARE LYING, BUT NEVER ASSUME YOU KNOW WHY."

Oliver Olson went to law school to help people.

But when one of the world’s most prominent law firms offers him a high paying summer job, he thinks he’d be crazy not to take it. He soon finds himself enthralled by a world of wealth, privilege, and power.

Blinded by his gilded new world, Ollie is slow to see that something is not right with the case he is assigned to work on - a case with no chance of winning, given to a "summer associate" merely to keep him busy.

Are people following him? Is he imagining things? Are they listening to his conversations? Why are people coming out of the woodwork with a sudden interest in a twelve year old murder case? And is it really possible that the wrong man went to prison?

Ollie wants to succeed, but when he sacrifices his own moral standards for a shot at the big time, he winds up staring down the barrel of a gun.

When you’ve sold out and can no longer follow your heart, you can only FOLLOW THE MONEY.

This novel is 75,000 fast-paced words.

About the Author: Fingers Murphy is the pen name of a well known international criminal defense attorney.

$200 and a Cadillac (2011)

Fingers Murphy named one of the "Top Three Indie Crime Fiction Authors" by Crime Fiction Utopia

"The suspense will keep you turning pages, and the dramatic twists in the story will keep your heart racing as the story unfolds." -- CC Jackson, reviewing Follow the Money

Fingers Murphy, author of Top 20 Legal Thrillers Follow the Money and The Flaming Motel, returns with with a fast-paced, crime thriller that will cost you some sleep.

WHEN YOU LIVE BY YOUR OWN RULES, YOU DIE BY THEM TOO.

A bored psychopath rotting away in the Mojave desert . . .

An obsessive contract killer sent to find him . . .

A small town Sheriff hiding from his personal demons . . .

A retired FBI agent itching to get back in the game . . .

And a couple of burn outs with nothing to lose, hell-bent on revenge . . . All they wanted to do was steal something from the company that laid them off and get the hell out of town. But when a coyote drags a human leg onto a lonely desert highway, worlds collide in ways no one can predict.

Find out what happens when your last worldly possessions are $200 AND A CADILLAC and everyone around you will kill to get what they want.



Monday, 21 August 2017

PARNELL HALL - DETECTIVE (1987)


Synopsis/blurb.....

This debut entry in the author's mystery series features actor-turned private investigator Stanley Hastings. Poor Stanley! In a word, his pursuits end in FAILURE. So when Martin Albrecht comes to him with a case for a real detective, Stanley turns him away. Unfortunately, Stanley's damned path leads to his finding Albrecht dead. Well now he's been challenged, so he has to take the case; maybe Stanley will finally prove that he's a real detective. To solve this case Stanley must descend into the modern-day inferno that consists of drugs and mob operations. Will he come out of it alive... A first novel from Parnell Hall, playwright and screenwriter, and actor, introduces erstwhile detective Stanley Hastings who, while engaged in phony detective work in aid of an insurance swindle, stumbles into his first real case. This is the author's first novel and the initial book in his now lengthy series featuring this Manhattan-based detective, a most unusual private eye. When an almost client turns up dead, this PI goes into an underworld of coke and kicks among the Big Boys of Miami and New York, taking the kind of risks that can get a guy real dead - real fast.

Read last December and really enjoyed. If I had more time and money and less existing books on the TBR pile I'd happily hoover up the entire 25-odd long series.

A few scrambled thoughts, which hardly do the book justice.....

Our man Stanley Hastings during the course of the novel, proves himself to be a real detective having had no notion of being one at the start. He's more of an ambulance chaser, signing up victims of accidents so that his company can sue for damages.

A man mistakes Hastings for a real detective and wants his help. He's a gambler and in over his head. Victim of some crooked games, he's now moving drugs for the mob, only he's been shaving the loads and is in bigger trouble than before. Hastings gives him the bum's rush, but when the man is murdered soon after, he feels compelled to look into things.

I really liked how the story unfolded, Hastings going from A to B to C, all the while counting the pennies and pretending to his wife and employer that he is just going about his daily business. Money is tight in the Hastings household and every dollar counts.

Great writing.....

"......I couldn’t fight my way out of a paper bag. The most dangerous thing I do is go into some pretty undesirable neighborhoods to interview prospective clients. I don’t like it. I always feel as if I have a sign saying “mug me” on my back. Actually, I’ve never had a problem. People who see me going into slums and housing projects figure I’m either a cop or I’m out of my mind, and they leave me alone. That’s what I do. And that’s all I do. You’re the first person who’s ever asked me to do anything else.” 

I stopped talking. He looked at me. He’d been looking at me the whole time I was talking, and his expression didn’t change when I stopped. He just kept looking at me. It was hard to read his expression. He looked a little like a steer must when it’s just been hit over the head with a sledgehammer at the slaughterhouse. Incredulous. Disbelieving. But something else, too. He blinked his eyes. His lips moved, but nothing came out. Then he said, almost in awe, “You’re useless.” He shook his head. “Jesus Christ, you’re absolutely useless, aren’t you.” 

He got to his feet as if in a daze and started for the door, still shaking his head. “Useless,” he muttered. He opened the door and went out. The door closed behind him. 


A book with a bit of everything - story, pace, character, setting, drugs, the mob, humour. A tick in every box.

Hall presents Hastings with an intriguing dilemna at the end of the book, a real sea-change moment which could alter the course of his life for ever - a car crash moment. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at his choice.

A light read, but the ending haunted me for ages afterwards.

5 from 5

Parnell Hall also has another 20 book long series to his name - Puzzle Lady.

Read in December, 2016
Published - 1987
Page count - 231
Source - purchased copy
Format - kindle

Sunday, 20 August 2017

FINGERS MURPHY - EVERYTHING I TELL YOU IS A LIE (2011)


Synopsis/blurb....

FINALIST for Spinetingler Magazine's Best Novella of 2011 Award

Praise for Fingers Murphy:

Fingers Murphy was recently named one of the Top 3 Indie Crime Authors by Crime Fiction Utopia.

Readers and reviewers call his work "poetic" "literate" "fast-paced and suspenseful" and "as good as it gets."

New York Times Bestselling author Debbi Mack wrote of his debut legal thriller: "Move over John Grisham!"

Now Fingers Murphy pushes his work in a new direction with this deceptively simple novella that explores the basic question: what drives someone to kill?

The answer, like life itself, is never as simple as it seems. As a prison psychologist and his young patient peel back layers of violence, abuse, mistrust, and missed opportunities, we see a family imploding on itself and the sometimes disastrous effect parental decisions have on children. 

Killers aren't born, they're made.

This 30,000 word novella will keep you up late to finish it in one sitting, and it will stick with you long after you put it down.

Fingers Murphy is the pen name of a well-known international criminal defense attorney.

A bit of naval-gazing with this one. Our protagonist has been in prison for over five years for his part in the death of someone - a someone unknown to the reader as yet.

His release date is approaching and our story is relayed to us through his monthly session with the prison psychologist. The sessions are designed to prepare him for life outside; to help him confront the decisions he made in an effort to steer him on a better path in future.

A difficult upbringing, a drift away from school into a dead-end job which in time leads to unemployment, a fracture in the family and friction with a step-father, death and loss and coping with a sick relative and bereavement, a relationship founded on fun and lust and floundering in hardship.

Not necessarily poor choices made, just a drift caused by lethargy and a lack of purpose. A flash of temper and a fiery confrontation and a gesture of spite = unintended consequences and where we are today.

Thoughtful, powerful and impressive. Factor in short as well - 128 pages total, a fair few of which are a sample of his three other books. I'll be reading more from Fingers Murphy in the future.

4.5 from 5

Fingers Murphy is a pseudonym for a well known international criminal defense attorney. He's on Twitter@fingers_murphy

$200 and a Cadillac, Follow the Money and The Flaming Motel await.

Read in December, 2016
Published  - 2011
Page count - 128
Source - purchased
Format - kindle

FRIEDRICH DURRENMATT - THE JUDGE AND HIS HANGMAN (1954)


Synopsis/blurb.....

Inspector Barlach is dying. But not fast enough for his arch-enemy

When a member of the Bern police force is shot dead on a Swiss country road, the enigmatic Inspector Barlach and his colleague Tschanz are intent on tracking down the killer. But the ailing Inspector doesn't have time to lose. Soon the pair discover that the victim was murdered on his way to a clandestine party at the home of a wealthy power broker - so why was a local policeman socialising with some of Switzerland's most influential men? Who was his shadowy host? And why has Barlach's past returned to haunt him in his final hours?

The Judge and His Hangman is a thrilling tale of lifelong rivalry, and of two men chained together by a wager that would destroy them both.

Friedrich D├╝rrenmatt (1921-1990) was a Swiss author and dramatist, most famous for his plays The Visit and The Physicists, which earned him a reputation as one of the greatest playwrights in the German language. He also wrote four highly regarded crime novels: The Pledge (adapted for a 2001 film starring Jack Nicholson), Suspicion and The Execution of Justice, are also published by Pushkin Vertigo.

My second time with Swiss author Friedrich Durrenmatt after enjoying The Pledge earlier this year. Thoughts here.

This re-issue from Pushkin Vertigo is a slim offering at 128 pages long, but for my reading tastes the length is a plus. The murder of a policeman and the subsequent investigation is interesting though it takes us until over halfway to discover in fact that there is more going on than meets the eye.

Inspector Barlach is and has been battling a foe for over forty years, unsuccessfully thus far. He has a last opportunity to bring him down, before his own ill health does for him.

I liked Barlach as a character - his solitude, his methods, his irritation with his superior and his clever manipulations, orchestrating events and people like a puppet master to achieve the desired outcome. More than one way to skin a cat.

I'm not usually a massive fan of older books (pre-early 60s is where I draw the line), I'll happily make an exception for Durrenmatt.

A few more from him sit on the pile - The Visit, The Quarry, The Execution of Justice, Suspicion.

4 from 5

Read in August, 2017
Published 1954 originally (2017 re-issue from Pushkin Vertigo)
Page count - 128
Source - review copy from publisher
Format - paperback

Thursday, 17 August 2017

JULY 2017 - READING LIST AND PICK OF THE MONTH

July's 5 STAR PICK OF THE MONTH!

Another slight fall away with my reading in the month. That's two months in a row now, from 13 read in May to 9 in June to 8 books completed in July - and a couple of short ones included in that figure as well.

Partly explained by an impending house move and the need to empty the attic of an embarrassing quantity of books. Hopefully August sees a bit more of a settled home environment and a bit of an upsurge in my reading.

The eight were...

Paul Heatley - FatBoy (2017)  (5)

Chris Thomas - Enter the Dark (2017) (4.5)

Tom Leins - Skull Meat (2017) (4.5)

Anthony Maguire - Sorry Time (2017) (4)

Ace Atkins - The Fallen (2017) (3)

David Owen - 13-Point Plan For A Perfect Murder (2016) (4)

S. W. Lauden - Crosswise (2016) (3.5)

Turlough Delaney - The Pact (2015) (3)


1 - 5 STAR READ and obvious selection for my Pick of the Month - Paul Heatley's FatBoy!

2 of the 8 rated 4.5 STARS, 2 at 4 STARS, 1  a shade less at 3.5 and 2 at 3 STARS



More useless trivia......

8 different authors,

6 of the 8 were new-to-me authors....... Paul Heatley and David Owen I've read before.

I still have unread books from 4 of these authors on the shelf, in the tubs or on the Kindle...Paul Heatley and David Owen again, and S. W. Lauden and Ace Atkins

Gender analysis - 8 male reads, no females - deja-vous.


I think 3 authors are English, 1 from Ireland, 1 from Australia, 2 from the US and 1 originally from Zimbabwe but living in Australia for 30-odd years.

All 8 were fiction reads - 7 novels and 1 novella/long short story.

All were published this decade - 5 from this year, 2 from 2016 and 1 from 2015. No nostalgia or GA nonsense for me!

3 of the 8 books were pre-owned - 2 came via the publisher and 3 from the author, 1 was free from a reviewer site, but I ran out of time reading it, so had to buy it to finish.

Favourite cover? Ace Atkins - The Fallen



Second favourite - Anthony Maguire's Sorry Time



My reads were this long - 114 - 315 - 44 - 325 - 370 - 298 - 158 - 151

Total page count =  1775 (2107 in June)

6 Kindle reads, 2 paperbacks,

1 < 50,
0 between 51 < 100,
3 between 101 < 200,
1 between 201 < 300,
3 between 301 < 400,
0 > 400 pages

Ace Atkins - The Fallen was the longest read at 370 pages.


DAVID OWEN - 13-POINT PLAN FOR A PERFECT MURDER (2016)


Synopsis/blurb…..

Tasmania's rise and rise as a tourist destination makes the island an ideal location for the cashed-up international polo set, jetting in from Europe, Buenos Aires, Shanghai and LA for their late summer carnival and relaxathon in the world's latest clean-green hotspot. They play fiercely and party hard at the swish Polo Palace, built near beautiful beaches through the largesse of an island-loving, polo-mad billionaire Bahraini businessman.

So when this idyll is gruesomely interrupted by the murder of Sebastian Wicken, a dashing and wealthy Englishman famous for wielding his stick and ball, Pufferfish, aka seasoned Detective Inspector Franz Heineken of the Tasmanian Police Force, is called to investigate. And investigate he does.

For starters, what possible relationship could there be between this visiting bludgeoned aristocrat and Tassie's worst-of-the-worst career villain, psychopathic Morgan Murger? What ghastly behaviour unites them in blood?

Pufferfish and his offsiders Rafe and Faye work double time to try and fathom who did what to whom, and why - while keeping an antsy tourist industry at bay - but then the strange intrusion of a quavery voice from rural England, being Sebastian's aunt Eugenie, deepens the mystery.

Meanwhile Faye, against advice, has got herself personally involved in the theft of a stamp album from a workingclass primary school. Silly kids and all that. Except it's no ordinary stamp album, sucking in and mightily distracting Pufferfish from the politically-charged polo mess.

As if all of this is not enough, an old Pufferfish flame, diminutive beauty Milly de Havilland cruises back into town from his distant past, when she'd given great comfort to the then young Dutch throwaway cop Franz Heineken, an emotional wreck washed up on remote Tasmania's shore. And, as it happens, Pufferfish's close de facto Hedda is currently overseas ...

13-Point Plan is the seventh Pufferfish book in total and my third outing with our intriguing Tasmanian detective Franz Heineken. It’s been a long while since I read the first couple and memory of the previous two outings is dim. Within a few pages though, I felt like I was catching-up with an old acquaintance.

We have an exotic setting of Tasmania, our older slightly grumpy detective and a couple of younger underlings and a murder site with two bodies – one a low-level criminal and the other a globe-trotting high-living polo player – what’s the connection apart from the fact they’re both dead – if there is one.

Heineken and his team try to solve both murders; all the while Heineken buffering his colleagues from a bit of political interference – after all it wouldn’t pay to upset the rich and powerful and unduly affect the influx of mad money into the Tasmanian economy – while also keeping at arm’s length or further an old flame from way back when. The arrival of said former beau, somewhat inconveniently coinciding with the absence of his current amour.

Another act, a schoolboy theft of a stamp album, also draws some attention from our enigmatic detective, albeit reluctantly. An interesting diversion from our two murder victims.

More cerebral than action driven, this mystery was enjoyed and savoured and read at a pedestrian pace as opposed to raced through. All the better for enjoying Pufferfish’s pithy observations and philosophy. The narrative style is instantly recognisable as author David Owen – well it is if you’ve enjoyed him before.

Regarding murder, we, whose job it is to know, almost always know, soon after a murder and frequently prior to the act, who committed the crime, because most are domestics. Or the victim and villain knew one another. Or the motive is the clue, especially revenge.     

At our conclusion…..

IN THIS BUSINESS, we generally delude ourselves that we’ve seen all there is to see, know all there is to know, until a new set of criminal behaviours comes along and washes that experience away, and we have to start all over again, and work it out. Only then do you think you know everything, for a while.

Enjoyed and savoured, entertained and satisfied. I won't be leaving it as long again next time before revisiting Tasmania and Pufferfish.

4 from 5

X AND Y and THE DEVIL TAKER sit on the paperback pile, which means I read PIG’S HEAD and A SECOND HAND way back when. 

NO WEATHER FOR A BURIAL and HOW THE DEAD SEE (the 5th and 6th series books) are on the Kindle. An eighth Pufferfish ROMEO’S GUN hit the shelves recently.


Author David Owen was born in Zimbabwe and emigrated to Australia in the 80s. For a bit more on him and some reviews of his books, see his page on Aust Crime Fiction website. 

Read in July, 2017
Published - 2016
Page count - 298
Source - review copy from author! (How has he ever heard of me?)
Format - signed paperback




Tuesday, 15 August 2017

2 BY STANLEY ELLIN

A blog feature which I haven't run for about a year or more returns with the highlighting of a couple of Stanley Ellin books in my collection.





















Ellin was an American mystery writer from New York.
Born in 1916, he died at the age of 69 in 1986. He's probably better known for his short stories than his novels. A few of his short stories were filmed for an Alfred Hitchcock mystery series.



Stronghold (1974)

James Flood, just released from a Florida prison, has a desperate scheme. He and his recruits, all hardened criminals, will move in upon a prominent upstate New York family, holding the Hayworth women as hostages while awaiting delivery of a four-million-dollar ransom. Flood expects no resistance. Marcus Hayworth, small-town banker and leading member of the Quaker community, is convinced he can subvert Flood's plan. Instead of going to the police, he will bring his family's crisis before his meeting, asking the Quaker community to back him in nonviolent opposition. Subsequent events isolate both hostages and captors within the Hayworth house, waging a war of nerves that involves more than a clash between good and evil. For Flood cannot be taken for granted. Much deeper than the profit motive is his need for revenge, a most urgent and specific need. And Hayworth's principles have never been put to the ultimate test.


The Blessington Method (1964)

"What is The Blessington Method? There is, you see, a society called The Society for Gerontology, and its primary concern is with the tragic situation of aging. BUT... the problems that the society attempts to solve are not the ones that bother old people. Take Mr. Treadwell. Although he's only forty-seven and in the pink of health, he has an old-age problem. His seventy-two-year-old father-in-law lives with him... and looks as if he will live on forever. Now, for seemingly impossible problems, problems like Mr. Treadwell's, The Blessington Method offers a most perfect solution. If you think there's no crime worse than cold-blooded murder, prepare yourself for the shock of your life."

Includes 9 more short stories of the macabre.






Not sure when I will get around to reading these two, but I'd better not read them after dark. The old Penguin text doesn't agree with my aging eyesight!

Not sure which I prefer the sound of most - on balance probably the novel as opposed to the short story collection.

I did read Mirror Mirror on the Wall from him back in 2013 - thoughts here.